Can Ferns Grow In Water?

Ferns are one of the oldest plants. So you wondering can ferns grow in water! Although they are considered hard to grow for most beginners. In this article, we will answer this question. And will lay out the guidelines for growing ferns in water. And the benefits of growing them in water.

But before diving deep into the details let’s answer our main question: can ferns grow in water? Ferns can grow in water indefinitely as long they get the right amount of light, temperature, and fertilization. keep reading to know how you can do it.

How to grow ferns in water

Ferns are a plant type that can grow underwater ( submerged completely under the water including their leaves.

While there are other plants that can grow in water only by submerging their roots. Such plants like a jade plant, string of pearls, and some types of bromeliads I wrote articles about growing those plants in the water, check them if you want to add more plants to your water garden. Also, I wrote an entire chapter about growing plants in water in my book Container Gardening: A Step-by-Step Practical Guide. Download your copy now through this link to master water gardening and container gardening in general.

Also, there are plants that float in water. That being said, let’s see how you can grow ferns underwater.

fern growing in water, Inside a container filled with water. And fern roots fixed by stones.
Fern living underwater

Step 1:

Pull the fern from its potting container gently. Or by using scissors cut the container without gutting your plant leaves or roots.

Image shows how to remove fern from soil to be transferred to water
Unpotted fern with its roots

Step 2:

Clean the fern roots from any potting medium particles by putting the roots under the water tap. And gently remove any potting medium particles.

Image shows how to wash soil from the fern roots by putting the roots under water tap for the fern to be able to grow in water
Removing soil from roots with water
Image shows how fern will look after its roots washed by water to grow in water container
soil-free Fern’s roots ready to be placed in a water container

Step 3:

Bring a clear water container. Any clear container that can hold water and allow the light to get into it will work just fine.

Make sure that the container size is compatible with the fern length. because the fern should be fully submerged underwater.

Step 4:

Put your fern inside the water container. Then fill the water container with gravel to the level that allows the fern’s roots to be covered with the gravel.

The gravel is used to hold the fern tidily underwater. Make sure not to cover the fern’s stem and leaves with gravel. Only the roots as such thing will hinder the fern growth.

Step 5:

Pour the water gently into the water container. And fill the container to the level that will make all the fern’s parts underwater.

Image shows how to place a fern in water container by fixing the roots with stones and submerging the fern fully in water.
Ferns submerged in water and the roots covered and fixed with stones

Caring for the fern while it is living under the water

Now you successfully placed your fern in the water. You need to remember a few things in order to make your plant thrive in the water:

Using quality water

The best water to use for growing your fern in water is rainwater as rainwater has the perfect pH Level that ferns love. The second best option is to use distilled water. A void using tap water as tap water contains salts and chemicals that will not allow the fern’s roots to absorb essential nutrients from the water.

In case you only have access to tap water you can use it after processing it. You purify the tap water by putting it in an open pot overnight from some treated chemicals to evaporate.

Changing the water

Change the water every week. In order to keep your plant fresh and the water container free of algae.

Cleaning the water container

Every 3 months pull your fern out of the water and clean the water container to make sure the container is mold and algae-free.


Ferns are not heavy feeders. But little feeding will make them thrive under the water. Feed your fern once per month during summer ( growing season) with a weak balanced liquid fertilizer. Stop fertilization completely during winter as in winter ferns go dormant ( they focus on resting rather than growth).

Use only 1/4 of the strength of the manufacturer’s recommendation. Mix the liquid fertilizer with the fern’s water.

Image shows how to fertilize a fern growing in water by pouring a liquid water fertilizer in the fern water container
Fertilizing a fern growing in water


Most ferns are native to the rainforest where the weather is relatively hot. Ferns will thrive best when the water temperature is between 60 to 7o F.

Although there are few ferns that are native to temperate regions. Such ferns can tolerate a temperature of 50 F. But not below that.


Give your ferns that living underwater bright but indirect light. By doing so you are mimicking its natural habitat.

How long ferns can live and grow in the water?

ferns can grow and live in the water indefinitely without a time limit. They will reach their normal age as if grown in the soil.

Can ferns grow in water only?

Technically ferns can grow in water without any additives. But the typical way of growing them in the water is by using gravel to fix them underwater.

The function of the gravel is to fix the fern’s roots rather than provide nutritional value. If you found a way to fix the fern under the water without using gravel or any other material you can try it.

Will fern cuttings root in water?

Fern cuttings will not root in water as many other plant cuttings do. Instead, ferns can grow in water by transferring the whole fern from the soil to the water. which means you need to unpot your fern with its roots from the soil and place it in the water container.

Advantages of growing ferns in the water

Ferns are recognized as one of the hardest plants to care for. Because they need consistently moist soil. But not waterlogged soil. Having a watering schedule that achieves such a thing is not easy.

Also, it demands a humid environment. So you may mist your ferns that are planted in the soil daily. Such conditions make ferns planted in soil, not for everyone.

But once you grow them in the water you eliminate those factors. You don’t need to worry anymore about the watering and the misting.

Also, plants living in the water have fewer pests infections when compared with the ones that grow in the soil. And sure, it is funnier.

In conclusion

In this article I hope I answered the question: “can ferns grow in water?” ferns can grow underwater if the water changed occasionally, and had the right conditions like indirect but bright sunlight, fertilization, and temperature.

Also, there are benefits that you will have when growing your ferns under the water like fewer pest infections. And extremely low maintenance requirements. Growing plants in water is a fun activity this is why I dedicated an entire chapter about it in my book Container Gardening: A Step-by-Step Practical Guide.

error: Content is protected !!